Semafo suspends work at Burkina Faso gold mine as death toll from attack rises – by Nicolas Van Praet, Geoffrey York and Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – November 8, 2019)

Montreal-based gold miner Semafo Inc. has halted operations at its Boungou gold mine in eastern Burkina Faso as the fallout widens from one of the worst-ever terrorist attacks on employees of a Canadian company.

Semafo said on Thursday it was suspending work at its flagship mine in the West African country, a day after insurgents ambushed a convoy carrying its employees to the mine site.

Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Kaboré, said 38 people were killed, increasing the previous day’s tally. More than 60 others were injured, and dozens are still believed to be unaccounted for after the raid, which occurred on a road 40 kilometres from the mine site.

“This is the deadliest incident targeting the mining industry, or any private businesses, in the Sahel since the 2013 In Amenas hostage crisis,” Vincent Rouget, an analyst at Control Risks Group, told Reuters. Sahel is the name for a region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to Sudan that has a large concentration of mining operations. Extremist groups, mostly Islamist insurgents, also proliferate in the area.

Even in a country gripped by escalating violence, the attack has provoked deep shock and anger. The strike highlights the increasing security threat for citizens and companies in Burkina Faso, which has been plunged into crisis amid an escalating wave of violent attacks by militants in recent months.

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